The ancient tradition in Mostar – Duvno Diocese is to pray from the 5th Sunday of Lent until Palm Sunday for deliverance of curses and blaspheming of our people. That was the case this year as well. All parishioners and pilgrims in Medjugorje have been invited to pray and to offer all of their intentions, especially prayer of the Way of the Cross on Friday, to God in atonement for all of the sins caused by cursing, slandering and blaspheming.
Holy Week began on Palm Sunday with procession that started at the grounds of the old church at 10.30 a.m. Holy Mass was celebrated at 11 a.m. in the church of St. James, it was the Mass of Passion of Our Lord. Holy Masses in Croatian language were held at 7, 8,11 and 6 p.m. Palm and olive branches were blessed at every Holy Mass. On the eve of Palm Sunday, Holy Mass at 6 p.m. was celebrated for all of the youth and Franciscan Youth choir were singing at that Holy Mass.
Roberto Mancini, Manager of Manchester City football club, came with his family for two-day visit to Medjugorje on Monday, March 26, 2012. He participated in the evening prayer programme, visited places of prayer in Medjugorje and spoke to Franciscans in Medjugorje parish. He also held press conference in the Information Centre Mir Medjugorje where he spoke about reasons for his visit and about some details from the world of sports. At the very beginning he said how this visit is fulfillment of one decision that he made long time ago. He heard about Medjugorje for the first time 25 years ago from one of the priests from Genova. “I believe this is a special place and I am really happy here”, said Mancini. He spoke about the importance of spirituality in everyday life and he said how faith means a lot to him. At the end, he said that he is planning to come again, since Medjugorje is really a special place for him.
The Easter egg, gift of Koprivnica – Krizevci County from the Republic of Croatia, was exposed again in the area in front of the church of St. James, on Monday, March 26, 2012. Fr. Marinko Sakota, the assistant parish priest in Medjugorje parish, Mr. Ivo Jerkic, Mayor of Citluk Municipality, Velimir Plesa, general consul of the Republic of Croatia in Mostar as well as the Head of the Koprivnica – Krizevci County, Darko Koren with representatives of the Tourist Board from Koprivnica – Krizevci County were present at this event. It is the project of painting big Easter eggs in naïve art that was launched by the Tourist Board of Koprivnica – Krizevci County. This Easter egg in Medjugorje is part of the project “Easter egg from the heart”, launched in 2007 with desire that one such easter egg brings message of love, peace and friendship throughout Croatian, European and world towns and cities.
Group of 64 Greek Catholic Nuns, members of fourteen different orders from Ukraine, came to Medjugorje for the first time from March 10 to March 15, 2012. Fr. Petro Kobalj is the organiser of this pilgrimage and he regularly participates in the Seminar for Priests that is organised in Medjugorje every summer. “These nuns wished to come to Medjugorje so they could witness about this place in Ukraine, since many of them work in the houses of mercy. They wanted to learn prayers and to bring that to the convents where they work and live. Here, in Medjugorje, they were able to see what does the living church mean”, said Fr. Kobalj.
Sr. Maria, Sr. Ljubomira, Sr. Tadeja and Sr. Nazarija spoke about their experience of Medjugorje. Sr. Marija is the member of the Order of St. Joseph and she told us that she cannot describe with words what she felt in Medjugorje. “I think it was a miracle that happened to me. Before I came to Medjugorje, I had huge pain in my back. Doctors did everything they could. One of the nuns that lives with me was encouraging me and she was saying how everything was going to be all right and I should go to Medjugorje. I told her that I could not walk, and especially not travel. I felt pain while we were travelling, but thanks to dear God I was able to come to Medjugorje.” She said that she experienced a great miracle since she was able to climb Cross Mountain. Sr. Ljubomira from the Order of Servants of the Immaculate Virgin Mary witnessed that they have one prayer group thanks to Medjugorje.
“I am especially grateful to the Queen of Peace, since I deeply felt her presence, she restored peace in my heart”, added Sr. Ljubomira.
The visionary Mirjana Dragicevic-Soldo had daily apparitions from June 24th 1981 to December 25th 1982. During the last daily apparition, Our Lady gave her the 10th secret, and told her that she would appear to her once a year, on the 18th of March. It has been this way through the years. Several thousand pilgrims gathered in prayer of the Rosary at the 'Blue Cross'. The apparition lasted from 14:00 to 14:05.
Dear children! I am coming among you because I desire to be your mother - your intercessor. I desire to be the bond between you and the Heavenly Father - your mediatrix. I desire to take you by the hand and to walk with you in the battle against the impure spirit. My children, consecrate yourselves to me completely. I will take your lives into my motherly hands and I will teach them peace and love, and then I will give them over to my Son. I am asking of you to pray and fast because only in this way will you know how to witness my Son in the right way through my motherly heart. Pray for your shepherds that, united in my Son, they can always joyfully proclaim the Word of God. Thank you.
Mons. Adriano Langa, Bishop of Diocese Inhambane from Mozambique, came to his second visit to Medjugorje. He came in the mid nineties for the first time, and it was just out of the curiosity. It was because Friars from Herzegovina Franciscan Province, who work in Kongo in missions, spoke to him about Medjugorje. In his interview for radio station Medjugorje, he said: “This second trip is my own initiative, since I got to know Medjugorje as the place of prayer and I wanted to come because of the prayer. I spent my days in silence. My daily programme was to attend the morning Holy Mass, then to pray the Way of the Cross and to finish with the evening prayer programme. I keep repeating to everyone that Medjugorje is the place that one needs to get to know, since it is here that we received invitation to prayer, this is really the place of the encounter with God”, said the bishop from Mozambique.
Around 50 young people from Germany, members of the community “Totus Tuus”, Marian lay community, arrived to Medjugorje. Fr. Joachim Federhen came with them and he was our guest at radio station “Mir” Medjugorje. He works as the assistant parish priest in one of the parishes but he also belongs to the community “Totus Tuus” , where he received his vocation. The establishment of this community is related to Medjugorje. One young married couple from Germany came for a holiday to Croatia and decided to visit Medjugorje as a part of that trip. They did not have any connections with God nor with the Church, but here, in Medjugorje, love of God completely touched their hearts and they both realised that they need to change their lives completely. When they returned home, they started praying in their family and they got to know the meaning of Our Lady’s messages. Soon afterwards they made contact with their parish community and after a while, little prayer community was formed. Their goal was to encourage others to live genuine life as faithful. In 1994, they decided to organise a pilgrimage to Medjugorje for young people.
On Friday, March 16th 2012 there will be 78th anniversary of building of cross on Cross Mountain and celebration of first Holy Mass under that same cross. Only 52 days passed ever since the day when decision for the cross to be built on the highest hill in the area, January 21st 1934 due to occasion of Jubilee Year of Passion of our Lord Jesus Christ, and decision was given to parishioners by their parish priest Fr. Bernardin Smoljan, until the day when cross was finally completed. Engineer Simun Boras from Mostar built the construction plan for the Cross, and Ante Dugandzic Redzo was monitoring all the works of construction.
The 19th International Meeting of Organisers of Pilgrimages, Leaders of Peace Centres and Medjugorje Prayer and Charity Groups that was held in Medjugorje from March 4 to March 8, 2012 gathered more than 300 participants from Brazil, Ireland, England, the United States, Germany, Switzerland, Austria, Portugal, France, Poland, Latvia, Ukraine, Czech Republic, Slovenia and Croatia and largest number of participants was from Italy. The theme of the Meeting was: “I do believe, help my unbelief!” The participants took part in lectures, conversations with lecturers and priests from Medjugorje as well as in the evening prayer programme and other venues that were organised for them. The lecturers were: Fr. Marinko Sakota, Fr. Ante Vuckovic and Fr. Dario Dodig. The coordinator of the retreat was Fr. Danko Perutina.
The nineteenth International Meeting for Organisers of Pilgrimages, Leaders of Peace Centres and Međugorje Prayer and Charity Groups will be held in Medjugorje from the 4th to the 8th of March 2012. The theme of the gathering is:
“…I do belive, help my unbelief!” (Mark 9: 24)
Number of Holy Communions: 21.000
Number of priests that concelebrated at Holy Masses: 729 (25 per day)
Herzegovinian Regional Fraternity of the Third Franciscan Order organised spiritual renewal at the beginning of the Lent that was held in Medjugorje on February 25, 2012. More than 350 members of the Third Franciscan Order from more than 9 different Herzegovinian parishes came to Medjugorje. Fr. Danko Perutina, the host of this renewal, greeted all who came and welcomed them to Medjugorje. After that, Regional Spiritual Assistant, Fr. Josip Vlasic gave a lecture on theme: “As Fraternity and with Fraternity through the doors of the faith” where he emphasised the importance of life in the Fraternity. All participants of this renewal participated in the evening prayer programme that is held in the church of St. James. Dr. Fr. Ivan Sesar, the Provincial of Herzegovina Franciscan Province, celebrated the evening Holy Mass along with nine other priests that concelebrated. Fr. Petar Vlasic, the parish priest, greeted all of the participants at the end of the evening Holy Mass and the retreat was completed after the Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament.
This year the Lent will start on Wednesday, February 22, 2012 and that is the period of forty-day preparation for Easter. During that time we meditate on Christ’s passion, especially while in the prayer of the Way of the Cross. That devotion is going to be held in the church with the following schedule:
Fridays: the Way of the Cross on Cross Mountain at 2 p.m. and after the evening Holy Mass in the church of St. James
Sundays: before the main Holy Mass at 10.30 a.m. and again after the evening Holy Mass at 6 p.m.
Mr. Rateb Rabie, KCHS, President of the Holy Land Christian Ecumenical Foundation, spoke with reporters for Radio MIR Medjugorje during his visit to Medjugorje.
Mr. Rateb is a Christian from Palestine, born in Jordan. His parents were forced to leave Jerusalem in 1948 and they had to immigrate to Jordan. He himself immigrated later to the United States where he got married and lived there for 35 years. Mr. Rabie is the citizen of the United States.
Regarding his life’s journey he said: "I was a businessman who was only consumed with the idea of gaining power and money. At that time, I received an invitation to return to the Holy Land and felt that I needed to do something for Christians and peace in that country.
Three years after I returned from that trip, I realised that I had to choose between continuing with my job and successful business career and pursuing the mission for the Christians in the Holy Land. I knew I could not do both of those tasks at the same time. I left everything I did and I completely devoted myself to this new ministry and I can say that I am happy now.
I have four daughters and at first my family questioned my decision because they could not understand why I decided to found this non-profit organisation. It took time, but finally the Foundation was formed that engaged the entire international community.
2nd Commemoration Days of Murdered Herzegovinian Franciscans were held in Siroki Brijeg from February 4 to February 7, when we commemorated 67th anniversary of brutal execution of Herzegovinian Franciscans.
On Friday, February 10, we are celebrating Memorial of Blessed Cardinal Alojzije Stepinac and it is also the day when we remember all murdered Franciscans from the parish of Medjugorje. Holy Mass at 6 p.m. is going to be celebrated for the following Franciscans who were brutally murdered during the Second World War: Fr. Krizan Galic, Fr. Jozo Bencun, Fr. Marko Dragicevic, Fr. Mariofil Sivric, Fr. Grgo Vasilj and Fr. Jenko Vasilj. We will also remember and pray for all of the parishioners who were murdered during the First World War, the Second World War and during the recent Homeland War.